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How to Transform an Old Man’s Screaming Into a Lifetime Achievement
Nick Pappas learned early what it means to chase a dream, no matter what. Nick grew up in Athens Greece, near the beach, and during his high school years was a singer in a top rock band and a top athlete. At 17, he won 3rd place in 110-meter hurdles in the Greek school games; At 19, he won 2nd place in high diving from a 5-meter platform and 5th in 3-meter springboard diving for the prestigious Panathenaikos athletics club. But the meaning of never stop chasing your dream came earlier…
The stage was set in Athens at the historic all-marble Panathenaikon Stadium where the international athletics meeting was to take place between Greece and Sweden. Track and field being popular in Greece, about 20,000 people participated that day. Nick was scheduled to run 200 meters.
The unique thing about that stadium is that it is probably the only one in the world where 200 meters is a straight shot, no twists and no turns. You just have to make sure that once you’ve crossed the finish line, you quickly swerve to your left to avoid smashing into the marble barrier. Nick’s trainer was 60 years old, 5’5, 180 lbs. a loud mouthed man who nevertheless had a passion for the sport and dedicated his whole life to it.
That fateful day, the coach had no alternative but to ask Nick to run 400 meters, except for 200 meters, because the 400 meter runner got sick. Nick did not train for 400 meters; this distance requires a different strategy, and a different way of thinking. A quick lesson from the trainer didn’t make the day much better as Nick set up at the start with a vague picture of what the second-by-second strategy was going to be. When the shot was heard, he jumped out of the kicks guided by the physical-mental instinct of a 200-meter sprinter, rather than the 400-meter strategist, who makes sure that with every step he positions himself according to the well-studied enemy. field surrounding him. At 300 meters, Nick’s legs stopped going. His lungs feverishly pumped volumes of air but the directions from the brain to the muscles were unanswered. At about 330 meters, the machine that would later go on and win top 5 positions in several sports in Greece came to a complete stop. Suddenly, the coach, who had cleverly positioned himself behind the marble barrier at the 350-meter mark, began yelling at Nick to start again, waving his arms frantically and pointing to the finish line. From all the fans yelling and cheering on their own runners, Nick could hear the coach’s yelling clearly.
Somehow, Nick managed to gather enough strength and drive to continue and finish the race, albeit last. The proud worrier, trying to catch his breath, exhausted, embarrassed and beaten, felt like he wanted to disappear and die. But this was nothing compared to what was about to happen 5 seconds later.
The coach arrives at the finish line. Nick looks up and sees a smoking, bright red-faced trainer. For a 16-year-old, a smoking-hot 60-year-old is a frightening sight. The trainer wastes no time getting to the point. Screaming and calling Nick various names, manages to sum up the following: “you never, never, never, never-never quit a race! You die before you quit a race! You always finish a race even if you have to crawl on your four to the finish line ! I’m 60 years old and I could run right now and finish this race!” Later in the locker room, he repeated the lifelong lesson, this time with a fatherly look on his face: “Niko, you never give up, not just a race, but everything you do in life. You never give up on anything, the race , you never give up in the bedroom. your dream. If you give up now, this will follow you in everything you do. You just never stop, period!”
There was a lot to learn that day for a 16-year-old cocky kid who up until that point thought he was god-like-invincible in anything he did. Nick went on to win races, diving competitions, volleyball trophies in Greece and also later after he moved to the USA, and finally motor racing competing for Porsche’s PCA. The lesson he learned that day pushed him to attend and receive four colleges, including a doctorate, and launch a highly successful career in the medical field, his current passion in life.
Eight years ago, Nick moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of another dream, following his true passion – music. Over the years he wrote a lot of music and songs, but it wasn’t until he came to California that this dream became a reality. He collaborated with 3 famous musicians and completed 2 CDs which are marketed in more than 65 music websites.
Nick is calmer now than when he learned that fateful lesson years ago. He now lives in Del Mar, again near the beach, still involved in medical research and still working on the next CD. He can write another scientific article for a medical journal and add it to the more than 50 already published. Besides regular gym workouts and flying the F4 fighter jets on the Midway carrying simulator in San Diego, his most important sport these days is … pampering his rare Aston Martin Vanquish or riding his custom Harley up and down the coast. By the way, he designed this bike and won 4 trophies in bike shows; “no more of that”, he says, “too much cleaning, too much pressure; I just want to ride now”.
One thing is for sure: Nick will chase his dream no matter what.
“I think the coach is somewhere up there still watching me to make sure I don’t give up on my dreams,” he says putting his hand on his chin and looking up at the blue California sky…
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